To make things clear, we are not talking about a Thai Oil Massage, Thai Fire Therapy, or a Thai Genital Massage session here, to name some of the exceptions where clothing is rather a non-issue, but about a genuine, authentic clothed Thai Traditional Massage.
Now, in Thailand, there are quite a number of spas, massage parlors, and the like, that will supply you with the proper clothing on the spot. There’s some logic behind it: hygiene, efficiency, practicality, and cultural reasons.
Of course, some places don’t have clothing available (or maybe they don’t have your size), and then it’s good to know what to wear to get the most out of your session. Below we’ll give you some pointers to take into consideration when dressing up for a Thai Massage treatment.
A country generally tropical, humid and hot, where clothes get dusty or sweaty easily, gives reason to supplying you with a clean outfit. This just for the masseur to have a pleasant non-smelly experience (smells are a hot ethical topic in Thailand), and to avoid “sharing” a bunch of nasty little bugs and the like with the masseur or the massage shop.
Usually you’ll also need to wash your hands and feet before the session — sometimes you’ll do that yourself, sometimes it’s done for you. You will often find a copper bucket with water and some herbs like lemon in it, or simply an outdoor spot with a water tap and soap supplied.
As Thai Massage is a lot about pressing, acupressure and stretching, it’s quite essential that the client wears clothes (preferably cotton) in order for the masseur/therapist to get a firm grip.
Another important issue here is the fact that Thai Massage, a bit depending on the style of massage, needs you to wear comfortable, flexible, loose-fitting clothes to be able to do the stretches on you and other “acrobatic” moves or Yoga-like poses. You can imagine that tight blue jeans won’t do the job.
The appropriate clothing would be a cotton Thai fisherman pants or a jogging pants when it comes to trousers, and for the upper part a cotton T-shirt, and this may sound a bit strange — preferably a T-shirt with long sleeves.
Cotton is the preferred material for clothing, because it doesn’t slide on the skin and it takes up sweat, which again prevents sliding and gliding. Cotton also provides a cooling effect; it channels heat away from the body which during a session is a practical advantage for both the practitioner and client.
Clothing also prevents so-called skin burn, because massage done skin on skin (without using oils) can easily cause an unpleasant burning sensation for the client.
Lastly, and certainly not an insignificant reason, would be a traditional, cultural one. In Southeast Asia, it’s usually the appropriate thing not to show too much skin, that is, to cover up as much as possible (in any case, the proper parts) to keep up the ethics straight.
To give you an example: you can imagine that being stretched on the mat with your legs spread out widely, and wearing a mini-skirt … is a bit too much.